To Beat Al Qaeda, Look to the East
AbstractNow we need to bring this perspective to Afghanistan and Pakistan — one that is smart about cultures, customs and connections. The present policy of focusing on troop strength and drones, and trying to win over people by improving their lives with Western-style aid programs, only continues a long history of foreign involvement and failure. Reading a thousand years of Arab and Muslim history would show little in the way of patterns that would have helped to predict 9/11, but our predicament in Afghanistan rhymes with the past like a limerick.... There's a good chance that enough factions in the loose Taliban coalition would opt to disinvite their troublesome guest if we forget about trying to subdue them or hold their territory. This would unwind the Taliban coalition into a lot of straggling, loosely networked groups that could be eliminated or contained. This means tracking down family and tribal networks, gaining a better understanding of family ties and intervening only when we see actions by Taliban and other groups to aid Al Qaeda or act outside their region.... To defeat violent extremism in Afghanistan, less may be more — just as it has been elsewhere in Asia.
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Date of creation: 13 Dec 2009
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Publication status: Published, New York Times and International Herald Tribune, 2009, WK11
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